Manchester United lock horns with Bournemouth at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday, with both clubs looking to build on their impressive midweek results.
The Red Devils bounced back from the disappointing loss to Newcastle United with a 2-1 victory over Chelsea at home on Wednesday evening. The win lifted Erik ten Hag’s men to sixth in the table, with only three points separating them from fourth-placed Manchester City.
The Cherries, on the other hand, beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at Selhurst Park to stretch their unbeaten run to four games. Andoni Iraola’s side will be in high spirits heading into the game against Man United.
With an intense clash expected between Man United and Bournemouth, here are the three key battles that could define the outcome of this Premier League fixture.
#Alejandro Garnacho vs Adam Smith
Alejandro Garnacho has been Man United’s most in-form player in recent games. He was excellent against Chelsea, terrorising their right side with his directness, pace and movement. After his tireless display in midweek—where he assisted for Scott McTominay’s winner—the Argentina international is expected to get the nod over Marcus Rashford on the left flank again.
As Garnacho is arguably Man United’s biggest threat going forward, Bournemouth’s rearguard must do everything possible to keep him quiet if they intend to keep a clean sheet, and the bulk of the responsibility could fall on the shoulders of experienced Adam Smith.
Expected to start at right-back in a 4-2-3-1 system, Smith must stay defensively alert and disciplined whilst picking his moments carefully when going forward. By doing so, he could keep Garnacho away from Bournemouth’s box and instead test the winger’s defensive diligence.
#Scott McTominay vs Lewis Cook
Scott McTominay scored an eye-catching brace to help the Red Devils register a 2-1 success over Chelsea on Wednesday. On another day, the midfielder could have easily bagged a hat-trick had he taken his chances. And after netting a double in the last game, the Scotland international is the club’s top scorer with six goals across all competitions this season.
Without a doubt, McTominay will be raring to continue his fine goalscoring form when Man United host Bournemouth on Saturday. The Scotsman’s goalscoring instincts in the box make him one of the players whom the Cherries’ midfield will want to keep a close watch on. Hence, Lewis Cook will have his work cut out at Old Trafford.
A busy, tenacious midfielder with strong technical skills, Cook’s ability to dictate the tempo of play and win possession back for his team makes him such a crucial cog in Andoni Iraola’s system. The English midfielder’s primary task will be to stop McTominay from making late surges in the box as this could be effective in stemming the home side’s attack. McTominay, on the other hand, should ensure Cook doesn’t get much time and space on the ball to initiate attacks for Bournemouth.
All in all, the midfield battle between McTominay and Cook will be a fascinating watch.
#Dominic Solanke vs Harry Maguire
Dominic Solanke is enjoying a fantastic season with Bournemouth. The English striker has netted seven goals in 15 league games—his best tally in the Premier League to date. Brimming with confidence, the 26-year-old will be hungry to get on the scoresheet against Erik ten Hag’s side.
Standing in front of Solanke will be Harry Maguire. The English defender’s return to form has made him a mainstay in Ten Hag’s XI, with the 30-year-old silencing his doubters by winning the Premier League’s Player of the Month for November. A series of colossal displays has helped Maguire regain his confidence, and he will be relishing the challenge posed by Solanke.
Given Solanke is always on the move and difficult to mark, Maguire will have to be at his best if he intends to keep the Bournemouth striker quiet.
I am Rohan Sengupta from one of the busiest cities in India, Mumbai. A Journalism graduate with a keen interest in sports, football is something I simply cannot live without and writing, discussing and analyzing the game is what I do 24*7.